Rusholme Ruffians

‘When the big man comes downstairs, we’re going to go and use your card. I’ll be waiting outside and if I see you leave the house before the girls come home, you’re dead. Where’s the landline?’

‘We don’t have one. The girls are a nightmare – we decided we’d stick to our mobiles.’

Full Stop remains standing and watches as Stephen sits, the blood finally beginning to clot at the gash on his cheek.

When they first started doing this, Full Stop felt almost proud at how clever it was. He has a conscience like anyone else, but almost every time it felt like they deserved it. Insurance will pay out. They’re benefiting from using his community to further themselves. It’s a tax. Full Stop has run it all through his head but standing here it means nothing. Stephen is different.

‘What were you watching?’

Stephen picks up the remote and flicks back to BBC Two. The Newsnight Review panel are discussing some art installation in London.

‘You like all this shit then? This art?’

Stephen looks at Full Stop. ‘Some. I do like this artist though. Do you?’

Full Stop thinks it’s beautiful.

‘Yeah. It’s alright.’

He can feel another silence creeping between them, another one of those soundless walls that kept him locked away from the real world for most of his young life. He found a safety in silence, a silence that he cocooned himself in when things were going off at home. Over the years that silence hardened and it has taken until now for him to start chipping away at it from the inside and allow himself to be heard. But like the captive’s first steps into the light, it hurts. The words don’t come easily.

‘It’s my favourite subject in school, art.’

Stephen is shocked for a second but this is soon replaced by a deep sadness. School. The boy is still in school. ‘Are you doing GCSEs?’

Full Stop shuffles. ‘Yeah. Need five A to Cs to get in college.’

‘Good. It’s good to think about. The future.’

Full Stop suddenly straightens up, the machete gripped with more purpose. ‘What?’

Despite the aggressive response, Stephen decides to try again. He tells himself it’s just a defence mechanism. The boy is scared. He’s just a scared child.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5



7 Responses to “Rusholme Ruffians”

  1. October 22, 2008 at 2:53 pm, emma roy- williams said:

    i liked this story it gave quite a vivid image of what it must have felt like to be in that situation without using too much language. and with it being set in rusholme it was easy to imagine the setting ie quite a miserable student house.

  2. October 22, 2008 at 6:13 pm, SPorter said:

    Full of surprises. Really like the names of the characters too.

  3. October 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm, smith3000 said:

    Very impressive. You got the details right, and the language and, I’d imagine, the mindsets of the protagonists too. I really liked the ‘sting’ in the tail too ..

  4. October 29, 2008 at 6:03 pm, Rachel said:

    Love the description. Very crazy, youthful and studified just like Rusholme is if you happen to be on the bus at night for whateever reason. Good story.

  5. December 12, 2008 at 5:05 pm, Martha Jones said:

    I agree fully with the other comments, just the way Rusholme is. I love the surprise ending.

  6. June 01, 2009 at 9:16 am, Matthew David Scott said:

    Hey, thanks all. Appreciate it.


  7. February 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm, Sally said:

    A well-written story with a surprise ending. I was a student and lived in student accommodation near “Curry Mile”; you’ve captured the visual and psychological atmosphere of the place. The spare style gives an eerie feeling to the story and draws the mental portrait of the “ruffians”, well done.


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